Ghislaine Maxwell’s guilty verdict may spell trouble for Prince Andrew, who is fighting a civil suit brought by Virginia Giuffre in the same New York City courthouse where the British socialite was convicted Wednesday.
Giuffre's suit alleges that she was 17 when Queen Elizabeth II's middle son sexually assaulted her on three occasions in New York and abroad at the direction of late financier Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell.
The royal has denied the allegations. After Maxwell was found guilty Wednesday of five of six counts for procuring teen girls to be sexually abused by her and Epstein, the Prince and his lawyers conducted an emergency meeting over the verdict's potential impact on his case, the Daily Mirror reported.
Giuffre’s allegations were not part of Maxwell’s criminal case, but the conviction of Prince Andrew's longtime friend could taint the waters, experts told Fox News.
"I don’t believe the conviction of Maxwell will have much more than an atmospheric effect," said former Manhattan federal prosecutor Roland Riopelle, who now works as a defense lawyer.
Surely, the jury pool is going to know about Ms. Maxwell’s conviction and it may influence them even if they swear it won’t."
Jeffrey Lichtman, a high-profile defense lawyer who recently represented drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, agreed with Riopelle’s assessment.
"You’re not comparing apples to apples and pears to pears," he said. "The allegations in the civil case are significantly different and involve different accusers. But Maxwell's conviction might provide slight corroboration to Giuffre’s allegations."
An element that is not in Prince Andrew's favor is that the standard of proof in a civil case is by a preponderance of the evidence, while in a criminal case it's beyond a reasonable doubt. Giuffre has to prove a lot less to win, Lichtman said.
In a minor victory for the Duke, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the 2009 secret settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre would be made public Jan. 3.
At a prior hearing, the royal’s Los Angeles-based attorney Andrew Brettler argued that the deal Giuffre signed "releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability."
On Tuesday, as jurors entered their fifth day of deliberations in Maxwell’s trial, Brettler filed a motion to try to get the civil case dismissed.
He argued that the Southern District of New York does not have jurisdiction because Giuffre lives in Australia, not Colorado as she stated in her complaint. Giuffre’s attorneys haven't responded to the latest filing.
Epstein killed himself in a jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.